"We're going to shame them for it", Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert told reporters during a White House briefing Tuesday, while admitting there is little that can be done to bring specific perpetrators to justice.
Bossert also acknowledged Microsoft efforts in tracing the WannaCry attack emanating from the North Korean government's cyber affiliates. "We do not make this allegation lightly...we do so with evidence and we do so with partners".
The government's conclusion is "based on evidence" and supported by the United Kingdom and private security research firms, he added. "We are not alone with our findings, either", he wrote. "WannaCry was indiscriminately reckless", he wrote in the op-ed. For instance, the USA has never formally blamed China for a devastating hack of federal workers' records that compromised millions of secret background check forms, despite widespread belief that Beijing orchestrated the theft.
The NSA (and later, the CIA) arrived at the same conclusions about WannaCry months ago, and one wonders what Bossert hopes to accomplish by relitigating an 8-month-old cyber attack.
"After careful investigation, the USA today publicly attributes the massive "WannaCry" cyberattack to North Korea", Bossert writes.
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Timing-wise, the US government imposed stronger sanctions on North Korea last month over the country's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and it's likely that it's now seeking further diplomatic leverage.
Bossert did not outline the U.S. government's specific plans to deal with cyberattacks, but officials in Washington said he was expected to do so later on Tuesday.
But following accusations from Theresa May's security minister Ben Wallace, North Korea hit back saying the statement was "despicable" and "an act beyond the limit of our tolerance".
He said it's also an opportunity to call on the other countries in the region that were affected to mobilise them to stop that same behaviour. "While victims received ransom demands, paying did not unlock their computers". What we did was, rely on - and some of it I can't share, unfortunately - technical links to previously identified North Korean cyber tools, tradecraft, operational infrastructure.
Bossert, who serves as President Donald Trump's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism, lamented that there is not much more that can be done to restrict North Korea's behavior, considering the Pyongyang regime already faces severe sanctions in many areas. "At some point they'll realize the president's resolve".